How Has Kempo Training Benefited My Life?
Physically: Faster, Stronger, Lighter!
It has been around a year now, and the benefits have been remarkable. Firstly, and most notably, I’ve lost a *lot* of weight. Quickly. Fifteen pounds so far. Looking slimmer, old clothes now fit, I can shop one size down. Good news all around. This stands in stark contrast with my experience with other exercise regimes. I used to go to the gym regularly, watch what I eat, etc. But I’ve never had the type of results I’ve seen with Kempo. I’m still trying to work out what the difference is, as I’m pretty sure I worked just as hard before (at least it seemed that way).
My best guess is that it’s the nature of the challenge. Going to the gym, aside from being relatively dull, doesn’t really offer the same opportunity to test your limits. To truly stretch yourself and find that you’re capable of more than you thought. This, I think, is what makes the difference. And Kempo offers that opportunity on a continuing basis. There are always more ways to push yourself, and the instructors seem to understand that a key part of their mission is to find those challenges, and to constantly push you just that little bit further than you thought you could go.
Aside from weight loss, all the other benefits of martial arts (balance, coordination, flexibility, endurance) have all arrived as promised. My posture is better, I get less tired when traveling or working, and I’ve noticed a quantum increase in my overall energy level.
Mentally: Relaxed, Alert, Resilient!
Related to the physical challenges noted above, Kempo has strengthened my ability to “go that extra mile.” To face new challenges and opportunities undaunted. And to relax and concentrate deeply on the task at hand. This is not only about pushing yourself and discovering that you are capable of more than you think. It’s also about feeling comfortable in being able to take a hit. Part of life is learning that, no matter how good we are, we all take hits. The challenge is learning how best to take that hit and get back up. Kempo provides a direct physical analogy to that challenge, which carries over into our broader lives. We get hit. It hurts. But the world doesn’t end. We carry on, and if we’re paying attention, we may learn something. In my own recent experience, this lesson has come forward most clearly in dealing with a knee injury. I worried about sparring without being able to rely on my legs. It seemed unfair. I’d get hit a lot. But at some point, I realized that I actually wanted to learn how to spar without my legs (which may not always serve me well as I get older and older). Sure I get hit. Sure I feel like a beginner. But in the context of Kempo, getting hit is safe. And ultimately, as I’ve gotten better, the prospect of getting hit is not something I worry about any more. Accepting that I’ll get hit, and that this will help me learn, has enabled me to relax and push on. It’s a slow process, but I find myself enjoying the journey rather than fearing it.
Looking forward: More cool stuff!!
The rewarding part of Kempo is that the challenges never end. Having reached one goal, there is always the opportunity to focus and strive toward the next one. And as outlined above, the benefits of stretching yourself carry over into both your physical and mental well being. Personally, I’m looking forward to exploring some of the richer aspects and traditions of Shaolin Kempo, including in particular the aspects of the different animal fighting styles. I’ve enjoyed Master’s Club tremendously; watching the Black Belts demonstrate the different styles and thinking “Cool! When do I get to learn that?” The opportunities seem boundless, and I know it’ll be fun.
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